Racing NSW Equine Welfare Fund
Karen Day – Equine Welfare Manager
Karen’s love for each and every horse in our program is deep and unwavering. Whilst also managing operations, Karen is the Greg Evans of Team Thoroughbred NSW with many successful and lasting matches made during her tenure. Karen’s skill base is broad having worked in media for two decades and managed agistment facilities. She also owns and trains her three retired thoroughbreds. Karen has only ever owned thoroughbreds and when asked what she likes about them she says “ummm …. everything. They are honest, versatile, athletic and beautiful.” Every day Karen’s mind is ticking over with ideas to improve the program and build relationships with community groups to open up channels for thoroughbreds in their careers post-racing.
Josie Gilbert – Equine Welfare Policies & Procedures Manager
Josie has always had a passion for horses having lessons as a child and mucking out millions of stables to get a “free ride”. Having learnt to ride on a gentle 17hh OTT flea bitten grey mare and progressing to another ex-racehorse she has always had an affinity for the breed. Formerly a physiotherapist and safety manager, Josie now works in risk management and policy for the program and takes a keen interest in injury management and rehabilitation, ground work and horse psychology. Every waking minute not spent child-rearing is spent at Pony Club, travelling to her three horses, riding and eventing (when given a leave pass by the family). She can often be found dredging facebook for potential suitors for our horses and picking the brains of horse experts.
Scott Brodie – Horse Rehabilitation Community Manager
Scott is an accomplished horseman who applies both natural horsemanship and classical dressage principles to assist a horse to transition from racing to their new career. Scott competed to advanced levels of eventing and has produced horses to Grand Prix Dressage. He is an Equestrian Australia NCAS Instructor and has studied under the guidance of Olympians. Scott also has a passion for the welfare of people. He is a facilitator for equine programs with Corrective Services and RSL Lifecare “Homes for Heros” providing mentoring and equine assisted therapy. Scott formerly served as a mounted police officer and currently consults for the mounted Police on horse training.
Paul Athanasoff – Trainer – Princes Farm
At five years old Paul Athansoff begged his next door neighbour for a double on Skipper, an Australian stock x thoroughbred horse, and that is when the tale from the cabbage patch to Europe and back began. Paul has broken and pretrained for the late Guy Walter and Kevin Robinson as well as a range of celebrity clients and owners. In equestrian circles Paul is best known for his show jumping achievements with a plethora of top shelf results both locally and globally including 9 Nations Cups, the Australian Show Jumping Championships in 2011 and the 2007 Olympic Cup. In Team Thoroughbred NSW Paul is a triple threat trainer, rider, coach and is focused on giving everyone the tools to be able to work with our thoroughbreds for both horse and rider success. Paul has excelled at rehoming and reschooling thoroughbreds and can lay claim to finding “Players” for Edwina Tops-Alexander – the first horse she was the Young Rider of the Year on.
Holly Harrison – Trainer – Tareena
Holly isn’t sure where her passion came from being born into a non-horsey family, but she discovered at age 12 in the UK that horses were for her. In her spare time Holly is jumping 110cm courses with ambitions to go higher, whilst at work she is helping our retired racehorses realise their potential. Holly has a lovely aura about her and the horses appreciate it. She is patient but firm when she needs to be to help them progress. Holly trains under Olympian Denis Piggott in eventing and can often be found at Wingham Jump Club with our horses doing the rounds to broaden their horizons.
Mal Fitzgerald – Trainer – Tareena
Mal thanks his Father for enabling him to discover his passion for horses as a three-year-old boy. He broke in his first horse “Timothy” at age six in the chook pen. Mal went on to join the racing industry in Dubbo as 15-year-old and was lucky to be mentored by some great jockeys and trainers as a young lad. Mal’s claim to fame is winning the apprentice premiership and he went on to jockey in Sydney. Mal says the thoroughbred has made him as a person and his career. Mal oozes empathy, he gives even the most challenging the opportunity to be great, taking the time they need to succeed. Mal believes in variety in re-training, exposing our horses to different experiences to help them enjoy their new careers, grow and learn. Our resident “Horse Psychologist” Mal can always be found in deep discussion with his 4 legged friends “they understand more than you think” he says.
Cassandra Schmidt – Trainer
Cassandra Schmidt comes from a long line of jockeys and was on a horse’s back before she could walk. She began competing at a young age and was crowned NSW State Champion in Show Riding several times. In late 2011 she began her jockeying apprenticeship and enjoyed much success during her six-year career. She won the NSW Apprentice Jockeys Premiership, QLD Provincial Apprentice Jockey Premiership and was the first female to win the NSW Northern Rivers Jockey Premiership. Cassandra rode her last winner on Australia Day in 2018 and due to a struggle with weight hung up her jockey boots soon after. She is now concentrating on her true passion of retraining thoroughbreds on her 100 acre property at Wauchope.
Bill Adams – Trainer – Greater Sydney
Bill is a former mounted policeman, who lives and breathes horses. His eye and feel are a joy to watch when working our horses on the ground to prepare them for their ridden phases. Bill is a perfectionist, a professor of his craft working to perfect movement, relaxation and posture whilst also helping them with their worries and insecurities. He will spend hours explaining the details of the what and why of horse training and is an asset to the program.
Phil McCaig – Trainer – St Heliers
Phil McCaig is the Team Thoroughbred NSW jack of all trades committed to our Inmate Development Program at St Heilers Muswellbrook. Phil has a background in serving the community as an active member of the NSW Police for more than three decades including a 15-year stint in the Mounted Police. Phil has a genuine interest in what makes a horse a trainable and a workable companion. He has been a farrier and has taken part in the RPL course being instructed under master farriers and provides our team insight on soundness early on in the retraining process. Phil has also studied under Master Saddle Maker David A Morris, giving him a fantastic understanding of the pressures on a horse’s back.
Les Westwood – Assessor & Trainer – Princes Farm
Born into a well-known Sydney harness racing family, Les Westwood was destined for a career with horses. His parents had stables at their Condell Park home and Les can’t remember not having horses as part of his day-to-day life. He went on to become a Group 1-winning harness racing driver as well as a successful trainer, breaker and owner for close to 35 years. Les retired from harness racing a decade ago but his love of all horses has seen him join Team Thoroughbred NSW as an assessor and retrainer.